Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Decluttering

I didn't specifically write it down as a resolution, but one of my ongoing personal goals is to remove excess clutter from my life. This involves removing from the house items I no longer use, finishing (or scrapping) unfinished projects, and otherwise slimming down my surroundings.

This has proved surprisingly difficult to do.

The biggest problem, of course, is that my brain doesn't natively break large projects down into smaller, more manageable chunks. When I see a cluttered home as THIS BIG HUGE PROJECT THAT MUST ALL BE DONE NOW, I quit before I've even gotten started. Yeah, I know, ridiculously stupid mental roadblock, but it's a roadblock that's been both persistent and effectively crippling in my life. I work at detouring around it, at telling myself, "OK, self, you are not touching the mess in the pantry or the bedroom or anything else today; all you're going to do is clear the stuff out of the bay window. That's it." If I can just remember to break it down into smaller projects, I can actually get stuff done.
Among my UFOs (unfinished objects): lots of writing. I started writing Unseen nearly three years ago, and still haven't finished it. Worse, I'm near the end of the story, which is where I almost always peter out because endings are complex and difficult and as much as I keep repeating the mantra "it's just a draft, it's just a draft," I'm terrified of screwing it up. Meh.

But good writing takes time. (Even mediocre writing like mine takes time.) And as much as I'd like to slam out thousand-page books -- and get paid -- like Stephen King, I'm just not capable of working at that speed or volume.  So I have a few articles simmering on the back burner, and every now and then I pull one up and write a few more words or tweak a description or decide on another plot point. And then I re-read and suppress the urge to delete the whole thing because it isn't good enough. Here's the thing: it's never going to be good enough for me. I'm learning to write and post anyway, in the hope that the process will eventually lead to improvements in my writing, plotting and voice. Because so far, I haven't seen evidence of much improvement through the process of not-writing and waiting around for the Fairy Godmother of Writing Muses to come and tap me on the head.

3 comments:

MarieC said...

Don't you dare ditch Unseen!

Allan Gianferante said...

I like this, I too do not naturally divide the large into manageable portions. I have been lucky in my education and training to have had instructors who were able to teach me to do so even though my inborn tendency is not to.

I have also assimilated into my nature that Japanese somewhat fatalistic attitude that says do your very best at this because it should be done regardless of any possibility of success.

Soozcat said...

Marie: not a chance. It might take me a while, but at this point I've written too much to turn back!

Allan: welcome to the blog! Aren't you a friend of Douglas Cootey? I appreciate your comments (and am glad to see there are others who struggle with divvying up large projects).